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For Tough Times: Counseling at Goodale Park
March 2005
by Karen Edwards

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Woody and Jerry Worthington
Photo / Gus Brunsman III

Times are tough. Financially, spiritually, emotionally – maybe even politically – you feel as though you’ve somehow stumbled onto some wild amusement park ride and you can’t find your way off.

If it helps, you’re not alone. Jerry Worthington, who runs Counseling at Goodale Park, 11 Buttles Ave., along with Deborah Bethel, typically juggles 40-45 patients a year. And that’s just on his own. That means a lot of people are dealing with emotional problems, ranging from grief management to alcohol dependency and everything in between.

“Managing relationships is probably the number one issue in my practice,” says Worthington.

Partners – and others
. Partner issues predominate – maintaining relationships with partners, understanding them, even dealing with the lack of a significant other – but he also helps clients handle problems with family members, co-workers and friends. If left unattended, people often cope with these issues in unhealthy ways, says Worthington. Some turn to drugs or alcohol, others to sex, overspending, even excessive Internet use.

“It’s their way of coping with the anxiety of life,” he says.

Because of the location of his practice, Worthington’s clientele includes a fair number of the GLBT (gay-lesbian-bisexual-transsexual) community, and he says because of recent political setbacks, many are suffering esteem issues again and relapsing into old behavior patterns.

“They’ve always been considered different, and been subject to discrimination,” says Worthington. Today’s climate only heightens those feelings.

Do I need counseling? While people of either sexual persuasion often try to cope with problems on their own, Worthington says there are two indicators that will tell you it may be time to seek some professional help.

“If your sleeping habits have changed – you’re getting too little sleep or too much, or if you’ve noticed a change in your appetite, it may be time to seek some counseling.”

Worthington is a licensed social worker, as well as a licensed, independent chemical dependency counselor. His practice partner, Deborah Bethel, is a licensed nurse and professional clinical counselor. They once worked together at the North Central Mental Health Agency, but have been in practice at their Buttles Street office for the past 14 years. In their 20-plus-year careers, the two have handled about every emotional problem there is: drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders, childhood traumas, AIDS patients, even suicidal clients, although if they’re actively suicidal, says Worthington, they’re often referred to OSU hospital, which has greater resources to care for them. Worthington typically handles clients who need long-term therapy. Bethel deals more with short-term clients, as well as with “women’s issues” and children (over the age of 10).

“She also does marital counseling,” says Worthington.

That’s a full complement of counseling services, available to anyone who lives in the Short North area – and beyond.

Less is more. Their counseling approach to clients sounds almost holistic. “We say ‘less is better’ if we can do it,” says Worthington. It’s a minimalist approach. You won’t be medicated if counseling will take care of your problem, and if short-term counseling works, you won’t be asked to come back month after month, year after year.

“I’ve treated clients as long as 10 years,” says Worthington, but those cases are generally exceptions. The counselors aim for less intrusion into their clients’ everyday lives – not more.

Worthington says he uses a psycho-dynamic focus in his practice. “Together, we try to understand the issue the client is dealing with.” Yes, that might involve traveling back to your childhood.

“Our upbringing is a map for us,” says Worthington. In other words, your anger issues or relationship issues or your depression may very well have something to do with a piece of development you missed out on as a child. Until you discover what that is, your issues are probably going to repeat themselves. Worthington also uses a technique (especially helpful for those with trauma, anxiety, and phobias, he says) called eye movement desensitization reprocessing, or EMDR for short. Sure, it may sound like something you saw in the movie Clockwork Orange, but the technique actually works – and, rest assured, it is absolutely painless. As Worthington describes it, clients focus on their issue or the matter that is troubling them, and allow themselves to experience all the heightened feelings and thoughts that go along with that fear. Their goal, however, is to replace those feelings, as they arise, with what they want to think and feel instead - a sense of calm, perhaps, or deep relaxation. While they are thus engaged, Worthington has a client watch a moving light.

“It’s bilateral stimulation,” Worthington explains. Each time the client re-experiences the feelings and thoughts, and replaces them with their goal feelings while focusing on the light, the original feelings become less intense. “We don’t exactly know how or why it works – just that it does,” says Worthington.

‘Self-healing” tips. Both counselors are also likely to prescribe some self-healing tips to their clients as well.

“Taking care of yourself physically can be helpful,” says Worthington. That means eating right, and getting the proper amount of exercise.

“I also tell clients they’re rich if they can count three friendships in their lives,” he says. Three friendships give you a support system – something everyone needs, just to cope with what life’s capable of throwing at us these days.

If that amusement park ride does become too much, though, Worthington and Bethel are there to help. Oh – and the pair’s “silent partner” will be happy to greet you as well. That would be Woody – Worthington’s Rhodesian Ridgeback (a.k.a. dog) – who often hangs around the office during sessions.

“He does what dogs are supposed to do,” says Worthington. That means Woody is responsible for providing plenty of unconditional support and love.

Clients are referred to the practice by other counselors, family doctors, other patients, and, of course, patients can self-refer. Worthington and Bethel don’t really work within the managed-care system. “All that paperwork takes time away from clients,” says Worthington – so clients here either pay out of pocket, or use their insurance company’s “out-of-network” benefit. Still, achieving peace of mind is one of those intangible things it’s hard to place a price on. And yes, if you think your peace of mind is worth the price, they are accepting new patients. Worthington says he likes his Short North location. His wife, Kris, even owned a gallery (Artistically Bent) in the area, and he says he enjoys working with artists, and others in the Short North/ Victorian Village community.

“We think our practice fits right into the Short North environment,” says Worthington. “That’s because we’re just like all the galleries. We deal with wonderful works of art.”

Help is right around the corner! Counseling at Goodale Park, 11 Buttles Ave. in the Short North. Call 614-228-7275

Note: Relocated November 2009 to 850 W. King Avenue, Suite B in Grandview, Ohio 43212 - same phone number.

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